Barack Obama, I award you no points:

US Senators Jim Bunning (R-KY) and Barack Obama (D-IL) have re-introduced a piece of legislation that would help create the infrastructure needed for large-scale production of Coal-to-Liquids (CTL) fuel in the U.S. …

The Coal-to-Liquid Fuel Promotion Act of 2007 enables the Department of Energy to provide loan guarantees for construction and direct loans for the planning and permitting of CTL plants. Loan guarantees will encourage private investment and planning loans will help companies prepare a plant for construction.

Nothing dims my opinion of government’s role in the economy more than things like this. Between the U.S., China, and now India, that makes some of the world’s largest or fastest-growing economies planning for CTL to play a large role in the future.

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I hold out hope that we can fight back the worst of these developments, but it’s things like this that will make conservation and efficiency more important than anything. As the easiest gasoline vanishes out our tailpipes, the supply we are left with will increasingly be the non-conventional stuff — tar sands, coal, corn ethanol. I’m not sure what the carbon balance is for CTL vs. coal-fired corn ethanol plants, but the best answer is “neither.”